• P.J. Griekspoor

    Under a Broiling Kansas Sun, History is Celebrated

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on July 31, 2010

    Today is Homecoming in Nicodemus, the biggest day of an annual weekend celebration that brings the descendants of one of, it not the only, surviving Exoduster communities in America, home for a visit. At its peak, this town was home to almost 800 people, all of whom farmed the land in Nicodemus County and some of whom also worked outside jobs in the nearby towns of Bogue and Stockton or traveled further to Hays and Phillipsburg. Today, only about 40 residents of Nicodemus are left. But on…

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  • John Vogel

    Blame Mother Nature?

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on July 30, 2010

     Last week, I took a rare 10-day vacation trip, wandering close to 3,300 miles up to northern Minnesota to visit family and wet my fishing line. And like any true agriculturist, I eagle-eyed all the goings-on on farms along the trek through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and back. While many southern Mid-Atlantic farmers saw corn crops being burned up by dry heat, many of their Mid-West counterparts agonized over yet another deluge of rainfall. While…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Make Sense of New Web Tools

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on July 29, 2010

    You may have hard of social media - or your children may have. These are the Web-based sites and tools that allow groups of people to share ideas and communicate. Whether you're talking Facebook, Twitter or even those discussion-based sites like NewAgTalk.com, this is social media. And more farmers are finding value in using the tools in a number of ways. Now why is a machinery column talking about Twitter (oh you can follow me at Twitter.com/Willie1701a)? In part because major players in all…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    It's Good To Be Home, But How Did I Get So Far Behind?

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on July 28, 2010

    Last weekend, my daughter and I flew together to beautiful St. Paul, Minnesota. She'd reconnected with her best friends from grade school and her favorite babysitters of 15 years ago on Facebook, so I invited her to come with me to Ag Media Summit, which this year was in St. Paul. We flew out on Sunday; a flawless, non-stop flight that arrived in plenty of time for her to make phone calls and me to get ready for a welcome cruise on the Mississippi. She did reunion connections while I went…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Dakota names at Ag Media summit

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on July 28, 2010

    The names of a couple Dakota farmers came up while I was visiting with companies exhibiting at the annual Ag Media Summit in St. Paul, Minn., this week. Dan Forgey, Gettsyburg, S.D., is on the cover of the latest Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education report. He received a SARE grant to test the introduction of crop crops in an 8,500 acre no-till system. Assisted  by researchers from USDA, SDSU and other institution, Forgey found that on his farm a mix of trurnips…

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  • Josh Flint

    Figuring Out Our Stance On Ethanol

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on July 27, 2010

    Most experts predict the ethanol industry will hit the blend wall within the next year or so. At this point, ethanol plant capacity will exceed the amount needed to blend 10% ethanol into all of our nation's fuel. To continue an upward trend in corn demand for the industry, groups are pushing legislators to mandate additional ethanol production. Until recently, all of these groups were pushing for an increase in the minimum ethanol blend from 10% to 15%. Growth Energy bucked the trend on…

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  • Tom Bechman

    What Makes a Master Farmer?

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on July 26, 2010

    To get pictures and information for this new crop of Master Farmers whom are being honored this week in Indiana in ceremonies at the Beck Ag Center, I drove hundreds of miles across this state. All five, counting the honorary master farmer we'll name, are quite worthy, each with their own story to tell. As I drove around and went through various towns, it would remind me of previous winners. As I headed toward Greencastle, I remembered Hubert McGaughey. On my way to Middletown, Bill and Kaye…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Dat's a Lotta Sweet Corn, Mom

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on July 23, 2010

    It was sweet corn day at our place last Thursday, and if you have any connection whatsoever to the farm, I'm trusting you know what that means. Because when you have a sweet corn "patch" that's measured in acres, not rows, sweet corn day is an all-day affair of picking, shucking, silking, cutting, cooking, bagging and freezing. And de-bugging. Ugh. I hate those nasty ear worms. Bleck. But I like eating sweet corn in January. And so does my family. So, we have one giant sticky, messy, sweaty…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    What Mike Hayden Really Thinks About Buffalo Commons

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on July 22, 2010

    I caught up to former governor and current secretary of wildlife and parks, Mike Hayden, today at a Kansas Land Trust dedication and finally had a chance to ask him: "What were you thinking  when you told the Kansas City editorial board that you'd changed your mind and now think Buffalo Commons is a good idea?" A KC Star editorial last spring touched off a firestorm in Wallace and Greeley counties -- targeted as the likeliest spot to begin said commons -- when landowners there saw it as…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Trouble Keeping Up? Consider a Farm Show

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on July 22, 2010

    I've heard it a lot over the years - "How do you keep up?" Truth is it is difficult even when you focus on farm technology as I do to keep up on all that is going on. Add in your real day job and I know the challenge you face. So consider a sabbatical. You read that right - I'm suggesting you take a little time away from the farm to recharge your brain with new information and help you keep up on new technology. Of course, that recommendation comes with this added piece of information: Use…

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  • Tim White

    There is one born every minute

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on July 21, 2010

    Would you be surprised to hear there is a tee shirt at the Columbus International Airport that is outselling any of the Buckeye gear? Well, I was. I traveled to Chicago last month on Southwest Airlines and as I walked by the news and magazine store near Gate 4, I noticed a prominent display of various colored tee shirts that were on sale 2 for $19. One had printed on it “Nothing tips like a cow.” The other one said “National Cow Tipping Champion.” Both also…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    What Is It With The USDA Racism Charges

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on July 20, 2010

    OK, is it just me, or is there something weird about a taped speech from 24 years ago popping up in a way that gets a USDA employee fired for something she said she did when she didn't work for USDA but for an unnamed non-profit organization? I'm wondering how her boss at USDA knew to fire her because she was about to appear on the Glen Beck show on Fox News? Last time I checked, the list of people about to be interviewed on Glen Beck wasn't public. There's for sure nothing on TV listings…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Check Your Well Covers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on July 20, 2010

    I just went out to look at our well cover. It looks solid. It looks OK. But now I'm not so sure. I spent time on the phone this morning with Mark Bertolino. We'd done a story together a few years ago about longwall mining in Montgomery County. But today he called to tell me about his baby granddaughter, Lia. She fell into her family's well last Tuesday. She died. She was 20 months old. I can hardly comprehend. Lia was outside with her mom and dad, and six-year-old brother. She'd been…

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  • Josh Flint

    It's Good To Hear an Optimistic Take on the Future of Ag

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on July 19, 2010

    It's tough to listen to Moe Russell without feeling optimistic for this business of farming. Russell, president of Russell Consulting Group, gave a great presentation at Wyffels' Corn Strategies meeting in Decatur last week. Consider this statement from Russell. "There's no other industry where you can make more money than the one you're in (farming)." Russell backs this up by comparing his clients' success to other financial benchmarks. For example, George Steinbrenner had a lifetime…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Take in a County Fair

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on July 19, 2010

    Wayne County kicked off the 4-H fair season in mid-June. I've had the pleasure of judging projects here before, like wildlife, soil and water conservation and the like, but not this year. Judging was the week of the Indiana FFA State Convention, and I was needed elsewhere, since my son, Daniel, was completing his year as a state FFA officer. I have made it to Dearborn County, Union County, and a few others, usually judging in the evening or on Saturdays. Why do I judge? Because it's fun to…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    New ethanol strategy

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on July 19, 2010

    I like it – some of the major players in the ethanol industry are proposing an end to the blender tax credit.   That’s got to be a first – an industry saying it’s time to end its subsidy.   Maybe now National Public Radio will get off ethanol’s back.   And the Tea Party ought to be happy.   Growth Energy suggests shifting the blender tax credit – which now goes to oil companies to encourage them to buy and blend ethanol with their…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Red, White and Dude, That's a Long Way Up There

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on July 17, 2010

    My husband, John, called me just a couple days before the Fourth. I knew he was outside because the wind blowing across his cell phone was really loud. Really, really loud. "Ya gotta come see this," he told me.  "Where are you??" "On top of the grain leg. I'm getting the flag up." So I loaded up the kids to run the couple miles up the road, so they could see Daddy risking life and limb to fly the flag. We missed it. By the time we got there, he had it up and had already…

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  • John Vogel

    Taking Your Vacation Time?

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on July 16, 2010

      Next week, you should be receiving the August issue of American Agriculturist. Inside is a Profit Planners article about taking vacation time. The sidebar to that story reported our survey question that you may have answered. Only one in eight persons had taken a two-week vacation once in the last five years. If you’re farm-grown like me, you probably think you don’t need a lot of time off. But our panelists argue that we’d be wiser to take the time to explore new or…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    At This Time of Year, Buying Local Is About Taste, Not Politics

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on July 15, 2010

    In the middle of February, the movement to "buy local" or "know your farmer" is a theoretical notion because there isn't any fresh produce in Kansas. If you want sweet corn or tomatoes or green beans, they aren't going to be local. But in the middle of July -- ah, that is a different story. I made a wrong turn today on my way to an interview and somehow found myself turning around in a store parking lot, where there just happened to be a sweet corn stand. I was already tempted but…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    What Ethanol Does Not Need Now Is Perception of Division

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on July 15, 2010

    It is looking like the U.S. Senate will actually start talking about an energy bill within the next few days. Whether something actually passes or we just move into another round of nothing remains to be seen. But today, Growth Energy, a group of ethanol supporters, rolled out their idea for moving toward a subsidy-free industry and a foreign-oil independent United States within the next 5 to 10 years. Noticeably absent from the podium was the Renewal Fuels Association, the American…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Big Equipment Offers New Niche

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on July 15, 2010

    Bigger crops are pushing up equipment sizes, not doubt about it. And that forces you to look at all other aspects of your operation. How many wagons and semis does it take to keep a Class 8 combine running in the field? What roads do you have to travel with that 16-row (or bigger) planter? Transporting equipment is getting tougher every day, but those challenges can create opportunities too. At least one company - Bestway - has figured out there may be a new niche in this business helping move…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Redstone Feeders

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on July 14, 2010

    A few years ago, Redstone Feeders, DeSmet, S.D. built two three-sided 100 x 1,200 foot monoslope finishing barns. Some people call them the "Cattle Castles." The Wilkinson brothers -- Bill, Todd and Ed -- built the barns thinking that the barns would pay off most in the winter, when they protect cattle from the cold and snow. “The big surprise was the gain we saw in the cattle in the summertime,” Bill Wilkinson said at the feedlot’s recent open house…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Illinois Native Takes White House Ag Spot

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on July 14, 2010

    After 18 months of non-action, President Obama has filled the legally-mandated ag and food adviser spot on his policy staff. His choice – Illinois native David Lazarus – has been applauded by the Washington ag press, and appears to be a sound pick who may actually understand the agriculture that exists beyond local, small and organic. Interestingly, I got to know Lazarus during the presidential campaign when he became the key force in Obama's camp for getting a slate of…

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  • Tim White

    Fisher Stands by the HSUS Compromise

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on July 13, 2010

    Jack Fisher, executive director of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, made himself available for an in depth interview this week following his participation in the crafting of a compromise agreement with the Humane Society of the United States on the issue of farm animal care in Ohio. Fisher has been taking shots from his membership since he joined Wayne Pacelle, president of the HSUS, and Gov. Ted Strickland to announce the agreement two weeks ago. “It has probably been one of the more…

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  • Josh Flint

    We Could Learn a Lot From Potato Commercial

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on July 13, 2010

    A few days ago, I caught the tail end of a great commercial. I had to get on Youtube so I could see the whole thing. You can watch the commercial at the end of this blog. Basically, it's a bunch of potato growers arguing over where the best potatoes come from. They're standing in potato fields, with a bag of Lay's, tossing friendly jabs at growers from other states. At one point, a California grower says the best potatoes come from California. The New England grower is quick to respond…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Home Sweet Home

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on July 12, 2010

    I've never had a great hankering to live anywhere but where I am. I don't long to live in Hawaii or Paris or Italy. I wouldn't mind to visit. In fact, I'd love to go to South Africa. But I'd want to come home. The mountains don't call my name either. Again, I wouldn't mind to visit. But I'd want to come back home. Home to wide open prairie, rolling hills, big blue skies, the comfort of rows of corn, cattle somewhere in the nearby distance. And changing seasons. My goodness, how do…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Quick Trip Opens Eyes to Goodness of Others

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on July 12, 2010

    Those of us who reside in Indiana like to take pride in what we call 'Hoosier Hospitality.' And indeed, most Hoosiers are quite hospitable. Whether it's waving to a neighbor, holding the door for someone at the store, or sending a card to an acquaintance who is sick and in need of comfort, Indiana is known as a place where those things happen routinely. I enjoy doing my bit and opening the door to a store or restaurant for those I don't even know. It's my way of being hospitable, a kind of…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    OK, I Admit It, I've Overwhelmed by Your Reaction

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on July 9, 2010

    OK, I have to admit that I'm astonished at the phone calls and e-mails I've gotten in just the few days since the July magazine came out with my editorial talking about my disillusionment at the basic values that have gone away in our political system. I have to admit that the overwhelming positive reaction I've gotten really is reassuring. It is also surprising. I really didn't expect to hear from anyone. And getting 11 phone calls and 18 e-mails (still counting) tells me I really struck a…

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  • John Vogel

    Learn Or Let Someone Else Farm

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on July 9, 2010

    During the last few weeks, I’ve been visiting young farmers and younger wanna-be farmers. I’m happy to report that there’s a rock-solid generation of better-educated young people becoming next-gen farmers. Of course, the upcoming generation will make mistakes. Didn’t you? But my almost 20 years involvement with Pennsylvania Farm Link has taught me that far too many older farmers still think they’ve got to die gripping the farm’s title in their gnarled…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Ag Has to Keep On Telling Its Story, Moran Tells Agribusiness Council

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on July 8, 2010

    You could have attended Thursday's Agribusiness Council of Sedgwick County luncheon and listened to Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Hays) speak to the 50 or so attendees and completely missed the fact that he's engaged in what most people would agree has gotten to be a pretty ugly campaign for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sam Brownback. Not once did Moran bring up his Republican primary opponent in the Senate race, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Wichita), or the increasingly negative tone of the…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Quick Glimpse of a Prototype

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on July 8, 2010

    A few weeks ago, we took a look at an interesting use of Facebook undertaken by the folks at Agco Corporation. The aim, to create some viral interest in a new combine that'll be coming out for season 2011, which they're calling the Super 7. In the original blog post - Using Facebook to Build Momentum we looked at the idea of promoting the combine as if it were a person you could "friend" on the popular site. And I, of course, became the combine's friend (more on that below). Of course, as a…

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  • John Vogel

    Our 'Fifth of July' Challenge

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on July 5, 2010

    Americans have had abundant reasons to celebrate the fourth of July – picnics and parties, spicy barbecues, sweet lemonades, cool ripe melons, red white and blue rocket flares, a long holiday weekend. But what were we really celebrating? Be honest now. Many have forgotten that we were supposed to be celebrating Independence Day, when our colonial forefathers broke free of rule by another nation. Very few know that 234 years of freedom has rarely been achieved – if ever! These…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Ethanol Still A Big Deal in Indiana

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on July 5, 2010

    Coming home form a business trip, driving through northwest Indiana the other day, I stopped for gas at a BP gas station. As I was pumping fuel into my truck, I noticed the catchy display above the pump. It promoted E85 ethanol and showed a cornfield. It was promoting homegrown fuel. I don't have an E85 vehicle, but I'm proud to burn 10% ethanol gas, and I still don't understand the holdup on EPA letting companies go to 15% ethanol. I would love to see that level in our gasoline. From what…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Food bubble -- How Wall Street Starved Millions and Got Away With It

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on July 5, 2010

      Interesting report in the left-leaning Harper’s Magazine called the "The Food Bubble." It’s about the 2008 run-up in wheat prices.   The article is subtitled "How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it." As author Frederick Kaufman tells it, Goldman Sachs was at the heart of the crisis. It created a commodity index fund and figured out a bunch of tricks like they did in the mortgage market to make money without taking any risk. Basically, brokers were…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Homegrown Fireworks

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on July 4, 2010

    Thirteen years ago, I was an intern in Washington, D.C. I sat on the National Mall and watched fireworks surround the Washington Monument, set to the 1812 Overture as played by the U.S. Navy Band. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I shared it with about a million other people. Nine years ago, my husband and I found ourselves on the East Coast for a friend's wedding, so we planned a side stop in Boston for the Fourth. We arrived on the banks of the Charles River, and wedged…

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  • Josh Flint

    Is July 4 Becoming Dependence Day?

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on July 4, 2010

    Happy birthday, America. Most Independence Days put me in a patriotic mood. While I'm grateful for what our veterans have done for us, I'm a bit somber this July 4. I miss the leadership and values that were inherent to our grandfathers' and great-grandfathers' generations. I'm concerned the ideals and values that shaped this great nation are slowly eroding away. I realize I'm preaching to the choir here. Of all the demographic groups in this nation, you'd be hard pressed to find a group…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Where Did Time Go? Jax Is 3 Today

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on July 3, 2010

    Not that it was exactly unexpected, but it was still a bit of jolt this morning to realize that my little grandson, Jackson, is turning 3 years old today. He's celebrating by hanging out with Dad and maybe, hurricane remains permitting, heading out to Old Cowtown, where Mom is working and sisters Chloe and Alyssa are running an entrepreneurial lemonade stand with some classmates. They're hoping to get the school year off to a good start next month with a summertime infusion of cash for the…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Wheat Basis and Problems with Insurance Have Been Noted

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on July 1, 2010

    Dozens of Kansas farmers are getting an ugly surprise this summer as wheat cash prices have fallen significantly lower than the July futures contract (or September contract for that matter). The issue is how Revenue Assurance and Crop Revenue insurance programs pay out. May farmers were under the assumption that the precipitous drop of prices in the month before harvest would trigger insurance payments. But "harvest price" is figured on a futures price formula and insurance payments are…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Chicago & Ethanol

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on July 1, 2010

    I was in Chicago this week for a company meeting. That’s one place that can use a lot more ethanol. “We calculate that if a single flex fuel vehicle is fueled with E85 instead of gasoline for a year, it prevents 4 tons of emissions from entering our air,” says Robert Moffitt, a spokesperson for the American Lung Association in North Dakota. The Clean Air Choice Team, which includes the American Lung Association in North Dakota, has launched an advertising campaign that…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Adding Up All the Costs

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on July 1, 2010

    Sitting in an air-conditioned sprayer cab on a hot, humid day is a good thing. Having a conversation with a savvy precision ag specialist just adds value. That's the experience I had last week with Dan Lucas, precision ag specialist for HTS Precision Ag Solutions. The Harlan, Iowa, company provides a range of precision ag services to farmers and dealers, but during my conversation with Dan we talked about something else - production costs and time. Working with growers trying to maximize every…

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  • Tim White

    Who Flinched?

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on July 1, 2010

    When Gov. Ted Strickland was jokingly asked by the press if he had tied everyone’s hands behind their backs to get the bitter rivals on both sides of the animal care debate to reach a negotiated settlement yesterday, Strickland humorously replied, “Well you all know my goal is to negotiate away the need for any elections next fall.” There was laughter in the room, although his opponent in next fall’s gubernatorial race John Kasich may not have joined in the chuckle…

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